Benny Mawel, Jayapura – Papuan People's Assembly chairman Timotius Murib said on Wednesday that the assembly had rejected the government's plan to create two more provinces in the country's easternmost region.
Previously, Home Minister Tito Karnavian said that he already received proposals from local figures regarding the establishment of two new provinces, namely South Papua and Pegunungan Tengah Papua. If the plan is approved, the new provinces would take territory from the region's two existing provinces: Papua and West Papua.
Even though the government is still imposing an overall moratorium on the establishment of new provinces and districts, Tito said that the government would consider the Papuan proposal.
However, it turned out that the Papuan People's Assembly, a state-sanctioned representative council consisting of Papuans, did not agree with the plan.
"To this day, [the assembly] will never approve recommendation for the new provinces as stipulated in Article 76 of [Law No. 21/2001 on] Papua Special Autonomy Law," Timotius said.
He said that according to the article new provinces can only be created after receiving approval from the assembly and the provincial legislative councils. He said the two institutions would only give their approval after assessing social conditions, human resources, financial capability and possible development in the future.
After examining the aforementioned determining factors, he said the assembly has concluded that it is not the right time to form new provinces. The assembly also noted that the previous establishment of West Papua province, as well as a new regency, did not make a positive impact for the locals from political, economic and cultural perspectives.
He added that the condition of areas that would be used for the new provinces is concerning because of the prolonged conflict and the lack of commitment from the Jakarta elite to develop them. In some conflict areas like Nduga and Puncak, locals are moving away so there are currently no Papuans residing in them.
"There are no people there. Everyone has escaped from the area, so Nduga should be reunited with Wamena, as well as Puncak with Paniai," Timotius said.
"The ones who fight for new provinces to be established are government officials [who do it] in the name of Papuans; so we reject, reject and reject," he said.
If the Jakarta and Papua elites ignore the assembly's disapproval, Timotius said they would be speeding up "the murder of Papuans".
"If [they] want to force new provincial formation, Jakarta should prepare as many coffins as possible. Don't bury them in Papua, bury them in Jakarta," he said.
Similar to Timotius, the chairman of the Sentani Tribe Council, Demas Tokoro, said new provinces would not be positive for the Papuans.
Demas said that the lack of human resources has become a problem for native Papuans, since the Papuans are in need of experts in every discipline.
"If there are no doctors or experts, then who would want to work? If they want to open new jobs for migrants then go ahead," he told The Jakarta Post.
The secretary of the Lapago Tribe Council, Engelbertus Surabut, is also questioning the establishment of new provinces and challenging the elites to think about its positive and negative impacts.
"Who will take benefit from this? Is it the Papuans or the non-Papuans? The Papuan elites or the people?" he asked. (dpk)